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Presidency, Commonwealth Bring Maritime, Shipping To Front Burners



  • As more than $12tn siphoned out of emerging countries through Offshore finance

The Federal Government, from all indications, may have gradually pushed the Nigerian Maritime industry to the front burners,  in its parley with the Commonwealth on how the nation’s economic challenges could be transformed into window of multiple opportunities.

While the reasons may not be unconnected with the dwindling fortunes of crude oil in the international market and Government’s resolve to diversify and refocus on the non-oil sector, we have it on good authority, of Government’s serious discussion with the Commonwealth to reinvigorate the maritime, particularly, all aspects of exports,  trade, capacity development and shipping.

The Vice president, Yemi Osinbajo in a warm handshake with the arrowhead of the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engr. Greg Ogbeifun; with the C.E.O Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, Oliver Everett looking with rapt attention... at the meeting in Vice President office at Abuja, recently.

The Vice president, Yemi Osinbajo (on the right) in a warm handshake with the arrowhead of the ShipOwners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engr. Greg Ogbeifun; with the C.E.O Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, Oliver Everett (center) looking with rapt attention… at the meeting in Vice President office at Abuja, recently.

Already, the Presidency has met and begun to explore how the nation’s unique relationship with the Commonwealth could be strengthened and capably harnessed in tandem with this laudable vision.

Specifically, a three- pronged approach which would coordinate trade with rails and shipping was being considered, particularly amongst Commonwealth member-countries; because it goes along with Government’s determination for laying very strong foundation for an enduring economic system, for Nigeria.

Oliver Everett in a group photograph with some SOAN members and a team of Ministerial committee on Development of National Carrier... at the Avenue Suites, V.I Lagos, at the weekend.

Oliver Everett in a group photograph with some SOAN members and a team of Ministerial committee on Development of National Carrier… at the Avenue Suites, V.I Lagos, at the weekend.

Already, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has not only adopted new measures to boost the efficiency of the nation’s maritime parastatals, he has also set up, two powerful committees, one with a mandate to guide Government in midwifing a national carrier and the other, to boost the effectiveness of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), particularly the implementation of it’s Cabotage law.

In tandem with these goals, the Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, Oliver Everett after his meeting with the Presidency, has also met with vital key stakeholders, particularly the ShipOwners Association of Nigeria (SOAN).

The SOAN which hosted Everett in Lagos, also ensured the presence of the relevant Ministerial Committee, to be part of the meeting, as a result of the core focus of the Commonwealth on the maritime and shipping sector.

Meanwhile, more than $12tn (£8tn) has been siphoned out of Russia, China and other emerging economies into the secretive world of offshore finance, new research has revealed, as David Cameron prepares to host world leaders for an anti-corruption summit.

A detailed 18-month research project has uncovered a sharp increase in the capital flowing offshore from developing countries, in particular Russia and China.

The analysis, carried out by Columbia University professor James S Henry for the Tax Justice Network, shows that by the end of 2014, $1.3tn of assets from Russia were sitting offshore. The figures, which came from compiling and cross-checking data from global institutions including the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations, follow the Panama Papers revelations of global, systemic tax avoidance.

Chinese citizens have $1.2tn stashed away in tax havens, once estimates for Hong Kong and Macau are included. Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia – all of which have seen high-profile corruption scandals in recent years – also come high on the list of the worst-affected countries.

Henry, a former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey, told the Guardian his research underlined the fact that tax-dodging was not the only motivation for using tax havens – criminals and kleptocrats also made prolific use of their services to keep their wealth secret and their money safe.

He said the list of users of offshore jurisdictions was like the cantina scene in Star Wars, where a motley group of unsavoury intergalactic characters is assembled. Henry said: “It’s like the Star Wars scene: you have the tax dodgers in one corner, the arms dealers in another, the kleptocrats over here. There’s also those using tax havens for money laundering, or fraud.”

Oil-rich countries including Nigeria and Angola feature as key sources of offshore funds, the research finds, as do Brazil and Argentina. Henry said the owners of this hidden capital were often so keen to secure secrecy and avoid their wealth being appropriated back home, that they were willing to accept paltry financial returns rather than investing it in ways that might promote economic development. Charging just 1% tax on this mountain of offshore wealth would yield more than $120bn a year, almost equivalent to the entire $131bn global aid budget.

The TJN is urging Cameron to push for agreement on a series of issues at anti-corruption summit on Thursday, including a tougher crackdown on the banks, lawyers and other professionals who facilitate financial secrecy and an obligation on all politicians to make their personal financial situation transparent.

The project is an update, for developing countries, on 2012 research which showed that, worldwide, more than $20tn was stashed away offshore. Henry said the number of tax havens had continued to increase over the period he studied, despite growing public pressure for action. On average, he said, the offshore capital belonging to developing countries had increased at 8% a year since 2010; 9% a year for China and Russia, perhaps because of fears of economic and political instability. “People are voting with their feet,” he said.

The prime minister published a summary of his tax affairs last month, after the Panama Papers leaks revealed that his father had set up an investment fund, Blairmore, based in the offshore jurisdiction of Panama.

Henry argued that when senior figures in authoritarian states such as China use tax havens to guard their money safely, they were effectively free-riding on the legal and financial systems of other countries. “All of these felons and kleptocrats are, in a way, essentially dependent on the rule of law when it comes to protecting their money,” he said.

He said it was not just exotic locations such as the Cayman Islands where money could effectively be hidden, but also some US states, such as Delaware, where it is possible for foreign investors to start up and run a company without making clear its ultimate ownership – something all UK firms will have to do from later this year.

Additional report from Guardian


WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners



…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live



The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured



…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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